In the wake of the departures of free-agent outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, the Orioles are ramping up their efforts to acquire outfield help before spring training. According to multiple reports, free-agents Colby Rasmus, Norichika Aoki and Ichiro as well as trade candidate Andre Ethier of the Dodgers are among the targets on the Orioles' radar.
The Orioles have had trade discussions with the Dodgers about acquiring Ethier, as was reported by MASN.com's Roch Kubatko on Sunday. Baltimore has kept in touch with Los Angeles for most of the winter, and were considered one of the more serious players for Matt Kemp before he was dealt to the Padres during the Winter Meetings. Ethier would require the O's to part with less in terms of prospects than Kemp, meaning that they are likely to be able to hold onto pitching prospects like Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy even if they do strike a deal for the outfielder.
Orioles' manager Buck Showalter met with Rasmus over the weekend, in what Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun notes was an effort by Showalter to gauge whether or not Rasmus would be a good fit for the team's clubhouse. The market for the up-and-down Rasmus has been slow to develop this winter, leading many to believe that he will have to settle for a one-year pillow contract with a team desperate for outfield help. According to Connolly's colleague, Eduardo Encina, the sides are not close to a deal at this point.
Aoki has been connected to the Orioles and Reds for most of the winter, though a report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reveals that teams have only been willing to offer two-year deals to this point. Aoki is likely to hold out for the three-year deal that he covets, though it would be tough to see the O's being the team to give him that long-term commitment.
Ichiro is another option for the Orioles, as was reported by Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com last week. The 41-year old is more likely to be a fallback option in case the team is unable to get something done in regards to Ethier, Rasmus or Aoki.